MOVIE REVIEW: Sly should have left Rambo in the 80s
RAMBO: LAST BLOOD
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Yvette Monreal, Sergio Peris-Mencheta
Running time: 100 minutes
Verdict: An ugly action throwback
JOHN Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) hasn't evolved much in the 40 years since he drew First Blood. In the fifth film in the long-running action franchise, the grizzled Vietnam vet co-exists, for the most part fairly peaceably, with his demons on an Arizona farm he inherited from his father.
Rambo's devotion to his horses and a young woman named Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), whom he thinks of as a daughter, is what keeps him afloat.
Gabrielle lives in the big house with her grandmother, Maria (Adriana Barraza), a farm worker who has known Rambo all his life. He sleeps in a bunker in the middle of a network of subterranean tunnels he has excavated.
For someone like Rambo, who treats his PTSD and other chronic war injuries with handfuls of prescription drugs, war is always just around the corner. This time, it's triggered by Gabrielle, who sneaks across the border in search of the father who abandoned her.
Within 24 hours, she has been kidnapped by a ruthless Mexican cartel, led by Hugo Martinez (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) that traffics in sex slaves. Given Rambo's track record, we can be entirely confident that he will have delivered his version of justice to each and every one of Gabrielle's captors by the time this story is over. But subtlety has never been the Green Beret's strong point. And his methods haven't become any more sophisticated in the intervening years.
Rambo's interrogation technique involves shoving his fingers into his adversary's shoulder joint, snapping the humerus and then twisting hard. Having thus discovered Gabrielle's location, he blunders into the cartel's headquarters without any kind of plan or backup - whereupon he is beaten to a pulp.
Rambo's thump first, think later approach doesn't augur well for Gabrielle's future - her situation would surely have been better served by a more intelligent approach. But at least her "protector" can wreak his vengeance. And providing a righteous excuse for rage-filled male vigilantism is what Last Blood (like Liam Neeson's similarly ugly Taken franchise) is all about.
Stallone was well served by the two Rocky spin offs Creed I and II, but he should have left Rambo behind in the 80s, where the character belonged.